Bringing Queen Esther into a fantasy realm, and entwining her story with another heroine, was a challenge I thoroughly enjoyed. While I was writing Prophet, Judge, and King, one of my editors wrote to me about the importance of bringing the mood and intent of the scriptures to life, while making the fantasy realm and its stories unique. While writing Queen, inspired by the Book of Esther and several other amazing heroes and heroines from the Scriptures, I kept the editor’s kindly admonishment in mind.
How did I subtly bring Esther’s story into Serena’s world?
I studied my fantasy realm and chose the Eosyth lands as the setting. Serena is actually based on two women from the O.T. One woman is Esther, so both storylines are entwined, however the second O.T. heroine is slightly more subdued until the end of Queen. Notice that I'm not mentioning the second O.T. woman's name due to spoilers! However, all the hints are there for both characters from the first time we meet Serena. Indeed, the parallels actually begin in Exiles, however—while reading the books in order is always good—you don’t necessarily need to read Exiles to enjoy Queen.
I chose Nikaros as Serena's relative, who protects and rescues the volatile and spoiled king throughout both books, while rising to power within the kingdom. Nik’s kinship with Serena ultimately strengthens his position and brings him more fully into favor with the spoiled king, Bel-Tygeon.
In both books, Vashti's disgrace is reflected in Zaria's rebellion and scheming, and the Lady Dasarai and Ebatenai are the final judges (representing the harem) for Serena. When Serena meets Bel-Tygeon in his own kingdom, I've drawn some oblique Esther-esque comparisons in her thoughts and resolutions as she prepares to meet the king.
Also, Serena is chosen throughout her story, repeatedly, based on her looks and potential as she is brought to power against her will, and I made a deliberate decision to show the Infinite working quietly in the background, as the Lord did during the story of Esther, to save His people—in this case, the Eosyths who love and revere Him despite the threats from their enemies). For the spoiled and lovelorn king, I had such FUN bringing Ty (Bel-Tygeon) into an ordinary family, allowing him to experience a normal life. Ty’s longing to have a family and children of his own really came to the surface in Queen, when it was only hinted at in Exiles. I hope you enjoy reading Serena’s story as much as I enjoyed writing Queen!
About the Author: R. J. Larson is the author of the Books of the Infinite series, and Realms of the Infinite series. R. J. also writes fiction as Kacy Barnett-Gramckow. She and her husband, Jerry, live in Colorado.
Giveaway: Larson is giving away one copy of Queen to a lucky winner. This giveaway is international, however, a winner from outside the US is eligible for an ecopy, rather than a print book.